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Tom Szaky

Expert in Environment, Eco Capitalism, Leadership

“To eliminate the idea of waste, to rethink the concept of garbage”

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English
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CEOEconomía CircularFounderOut of the boxengagementwaste management

“To eliminate the idea of waste, to rethink the concept of garbage”. The motto of Hungarian entrepreneur Tom Szaky (Budapest, 1982) gives sense to almost two decades of initiatives in favor of environment. Founder, in 2001, of the platform TerraCycle, with a philosophy advocating for recycling, he has inspired the sustainability policies of big firms such as Wal-Mart, PepsiCo, Kraft, Carrefour, Procter & Gamble, Colgate or Bimbo and has advised many nonprofit organizations internationally.

TerraCycle, that was born as a massive composting system that converted organic waste from the dining halls of Princeton University; moved forward, soon, to other plastic residues and, immediately, addressed other refuses traditionally considered as non-recyclable, including cigarette butts, soiled diapers and chewing gum. It managed to incorporate those to ‘upciclying’ circles. Today, TerraCycle involves 35 million people throughout the world and has presence in 21 countries, including Canada, Mexico, United States, Brazil, United Kingdom and China.

In his speeches, Szaky repudiates programmed obsolesce and deepens in the idea of upcycling, a notion that considers each aspect of garbage as a recoverable value. At the same time, he offers the keys for small and medium businesses to become micro-multinationals, with a presence in international markets thanks to sustainable policies.
In his best-selling books, “Revolution in a bottle: How Terracycle is eliminating the idea of waste” (2009, reprint in 2013), “Outsmart Waste” (2014), “Make Garbage Great” (2014), “Garbage is Great” (2016) and “The Future of Packaging” (2019), winner of several awards such as the Independent Published Book Award, a gold medal at the Outstanding Book of the Year, the eco businessman centers in the need of reusing residues and multiply the percentages of recycling internationally to stop climate change, optimize sustainable growth and avoid recession.

Szaky has been awarded with more than 200 recognitions internationally granted by institutions such as the United Nations, the World Economic Forum and the Environmental Protection Agency. In 2013, he received the Inc Award for Best Social Entrepreneur.

Many international media have featured his theories and advances. Forbes included Szaky in the list of Top 30 Social Entrepreneurs of the world. And the National Geographic documentary, Tycoons of Garbage, center in his career. Between 2014 and 2016, he produced the reality show “Human Resources” (aired on Pivot).

Szaky studied Psychology and Economics at Princeton University but left the studies to focus on TerraCycle.

He is the son of a couple of medical doctors who migrated to Canada from Budapest after the nuclear disaster of Chernobyl.

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